Dan has been writing poetry, songs and stories for as long as he can remember. He is a graduate of the University of Washington Writing For Children Program where he wrote his debut picture book THE PROBLEM WITH NOT BEING SCARED OF MONSTERS. Dan lives with his wife, two children and their golden doodle in Bothell, WA. For more information, please visit his website.
What would complete your outfit right now?
A set of dancing penguins from Mary Poppins. And penguin pants. Penguin pants are cool.
How do you feel about small talk? Love or hate?
I like small talk though I like tiny talk better. Microscopic talk is the best. Like when I talk to ants. Or even smaller ants.
Where is the most beautiful place you’ve ever been?
I once climbed 998 steps to the top of a hill in Southern China to watch the sun rise over the rice fields. I felt like I had been transported to land of the lost. Which might explain why we couldn’t find our way back to the hotel.
What is the oldest thing you own? Where did you get it?
I have a lot of agates in my house that were collected by my mother during her lifetime. Rocks made her happy. Happy rocks.
What words of inspiration were given to you that you would like to pass along to others?
The only thing we have to fear is fear itself. Unless you’re a writer, in which case you also have criticism, rejection and the likelihood of total failure. In my experience, as long as you are scared you’re doing something right.
When did you realize that you had a gift for writing?
When I realized I didn’t have a gift for art, music, drama, sculpture, architecture, woodworking, public speaking, politics, engineering, math, science or sports. It came down to sales or writing. I immediately went into sales.
Do you have family members who like to write too?
I have two children who are both excellent creative writers. Unfortunately, essays are the writing of choice in school these days. Hopefully once they finish analyzing the world to death they’ll rediscover the sense of wonder lying dormant on the other side of their brains. One can only hope.
Which of your books gives you the most pride or satisfaction?
THE PROBLEM WITH NOT BEING SCARED OF MONSTERS at the moment. It’s my debut picture book. I wrote the manuscript while attending the University of Washington Writing For Children Program. It helped me get my first agent. And I’ve had a blast working with Rebecca Davis, my editor at Boyds Mills Press. The book may not change the world but it sure has changed my life.
How do you deal with creativity blocks?
I reach into my writing tool belt, pull out my chisel of imagination and my hammer of desire and start chipping away until either the block breaks or I do. So far it’s been the block.
Do you feel that you chose your passion, or did it choose you?
I’ve had a high need to be creative ever since I was a child. When I was little we lived where there were no other kids to play with. I don’t remember ever feeling lonely. I had all the imaginary playmates needed to do battle, go adventuring and keep myself occupied through childhood. I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t creating either songs or stories.
Is there a particular place where you feel most creative?
Any place I find myself without a pen, paper, or computer handy. I’m pretty sure my imagination waits until I’m driving, showering or taking a nap to spring the best ideas. My imagination can be such a child.
How much of your own life is reflected in your work?
None of it and all of it. I don’t know. Creativity is such strange magic. Some things seem to parallel past experiences but most of it seems to come from someplace else. I don’t write as therapy. I don’t write to change the world. But I do write to discover. And I do find writing to be a spiritual experience, even if what I’m writing seems silly or inconsequential on the surface. Somehow, something deeper always rises. I love that. And I cherish every word that makes its way onto the page. Every word matters.